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Dreamworld reputation savaged at inquest

Dreamworld reputation savaged at inquest
December 7, 2018

The reputation of Australia's largest theme park has been savaged during the inquest into the deaths of four tourists at Dreamworld.

The inquest into the deaths of Cindy Low, Kate Goodchild, her brother Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozi Araghi on the Thunder River Rapids ride has closed after 31 days of testimony.

Evidence has at times been confronting as details of the accident at the Gold Coast theme park were unveiled.

Three of the four holidaymakers were flung into a mechanised conveyor when a water pump failed and the raft they were riding collided with another and partially flipped on 25th October 2016.

Panicked staff did not know what to do, with a radio call saying simply there was a "raft in the conveyor" - the first indication something disastrous had happened.

Missing slats on the conveyor belt created a void large enough for the rear of the second raft to be drawn into the gap.

A crucial delay in stopping the ride caused the jammed raft to be shaken and a fourth person to fall into the machinery.

Despite the efforts of paramedics, the four never had a chance of survival.

Goodchild's 12-year-old daughter and Low's 10-year-old son survived the incident.

The wide-ranging inquest, which opened in June, has unveiled a "litany of problems" with some experts declaring the tragedy was an accident waiting to happen.

Dreamworld's training systems have been heavily criticised, with revelations staff operating the ride were given 90 minutes of training.

The inquest heard a memo sent to Dreamworld staff days before the tragedy warned an emergency stop button near the unloading dock of the ride wasn't to be pushed unless in certain circumstances.

Dreamworld executives had stopped spending money on repairs and maintenance in the months before the fatal accident, it was also revealed.

A March 2016 meeting outlined monthly expenditure was $125,000 over budget on a year-to-date basis.

The document stated "revenue is up but profit is down, cutbacks are now being enforced.

"Repairs and maintenance spending needs to stop, only CAPEX (capital expenditure)."

Dreamworld staff admitted there had been a "total failure" to identify risks with the ride and a series of equipment failures before the accident should have raised red flags and been investigated.

Police giving evidence said multiple safety recommendations following those incidents were not implemented, including the installation of automatic sensors to detect falling water levels or a simple single total shutdown switch.

The ride was also heavily criticised as "unsafe" as it had no proper maintenance schedules, extensive cracking and corrosion with parts of the structure "propped up with timber".

Workplace Health and Safety engineers said significant alterations to the ride had never been assessed or approved and made the ride "more hazardous"

The tragedy has prompted a review of inspection procedures and a major overhaul of theme park safety across Queensland.

Dr Gary Weiss, Chairman of Ardent Leisure, which owns Dreamworld, issued a statement to express remorse and deep regret over the accident.

It read “our thoughts remain with the victims' families and everyone who has been affected by this terrible tragedy."

Coroner James McDougall is expected to hand down his findings next year.

© AAP 2018

Image: Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride prior to the October 2016 fatalities.

Related Articles

6th December 2018 - Final days of inquest into Dreamworld fatalities sees calls for new initiatives in theme park safety

22nd November 2018 - Ardent Leisure reveals theme park investment strategy

2nd November 2018 - Dreamworld begins countdown to Sky Voyager launch

23rd October 2018 - Ardent Leisure names casino and hospitality professional as new Dreamworld Chief Executive

19th October 2018 - Coroner seeks proof that all Dreamworld rides had safety certification

19th October 2018 - Dreamworld manager denies obstructing Queensland Police investigation during emotional Coronial inquiry testimony

18th October 2018 - Families cry as Dreamworld supervisor delivers tearful statement of sympathy over ride fatalities

16th October 2018 - Coroner seeks to have Dreamworld inquest extended

15th October 2018 - Dreamworld inquest told $3,000 water level sensor would have prevented tragedy

12th October 2018 - Dreamworld inquest delay as Ardent Leisure accused of being slow to hand over documents

8th October 2018 - Reopened Dreamworld inquest hears ‘everybody’ failed to ensure ride’s safety prior to fatalities

16th August 2018 - Queensland Government regulators left inspections of fatal ride up to Dreamworld

23rd June 2018 - Victims’ family ‘devastated and horrified’ by evidence at Dreamworld inquest

25th June 2018 - Inquest evidence causing ‘irretrievable’ damage to Dreamworld’s reputation

4th April 2017 - Ardent Leisure Chief Executive ‘appeared to be ducking for cover’ following Dreamworld fatalities

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